If I ever have an excuse to walk down Roupell Street near Waterloo station, I generally take it. It's a 1820s Georgian street, which has managed to survive developments, bombings and the expansion of the railways - walking down it is like walking back in time, or walking down a film set (which it usually is - you'll probably recognise it from Legend, The Boat That Rocked, Call the Midwife and oddly enough, the opening credits for Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway). I think places like this sum London up; pockets of history hidden away between big glass modern buildings, workers cottages built on marsh land which are now worth over £1m. Of course, in London there are places which are just as old, if not older which have survived - massive parts of Notting Hill and Holland Park for example, but they were built for the rich, whereas Roupell Street was built for people who needed a place to live - I often wonder what the people who lived there when they were new would think of what it's like now, and if they'd laugh? Either way, a roast at The Kings Arms is usually worth a shout (despite slightly odd gravy choices) and Konditor & Cook isn't a bad choice for a cake either.
Let me know if you know any other little gems like this hidden away in London!
I think you only have to take a glance at my Instagram to see how much I love going for cocktails - I wish I could find a better way of saying that because I'm convinced that I come across as a bit of wanker - but it's true, I do. One of the better things about living in London is that when it comes to cocktail choice, there's a hell of a lot of it. There seems to be a new cocktail bar opening weekly, or even standard cocktail bar choices like Dirty Martini's that have flooded high streets like pubs would do in other towns.
So yeah, I'm pretty happy to head off somewhere on a whim and grab a cocktail. Last Sunday's choice was the Escapologist, on Earlham Street in the Seven Dials area of Covent Garden. The Escapologist is part of the Adventure Bar group of bars, and promises riotous "memorable times with great drinks in an outrageous space", set in the headquarters of a "secret society that ran Victorian London, styled as part ‘modern day Victorian men’s club’ and ‘part Masonic lodge’". Right then.
I chose three cocktails - but one of the bigger disappointments about this venue is that the menu isn't all that far off being the same menu for the three Adventure Bars which are dotted around London. I know this isn't all that surprising as they are part of the same group, but why bother having a different theme if you're not going to try with the menu, why wouldn't you just save yourself the effort and make it an Adventure Bar? I don't think it would have been that difficult to come up with a few different ones.
Having said that, the cocktails are good and there's no getting away from that, and they do try hard with the ones they have - from the extra little bits to some of the cocktails which come in skull glasses or on fire. They're decorated and it's clear that they've just gone to that extra little mile. One of big pet hates of cocktail bars is there not being any alcohol in them - if I'm spending £10+ on a drink, I want it to have something alcoholic in it, and not to feel ripped off, and that's not something you could ever accuse The Escapologist of.
Would I be back? Possibly, if I was in the area, but I'm not sure I'd make a big effort to go back. If I had to pick, I'd stick with an Adventure Bar - the service is better and there's more choice. Let me know if you have anywhere to suggest for cocktails in central London, I'm always up for discovering!
Pictures from here.
The Escapologist - 35 Earlham Street, London WC2H 9LD.
I've been tempted by Airbnb before but I've never quite managed to make the jump into actually booking a place to go on there. I'm too much of a nervy bean - constantly worrying that they won't show up and I'll be stranded in a foreign country with no where to stay, having to fork out top prices for crap hotels in a rush to not sleep in a box on the side of the street. Luckily, when booking a trip with some friends last month, they were already seasoned Airbnbers and I didn't have to make the jump myself.
Our trip involved booking two places - the first in Lisbon and the second near Peniche in Portugal. Admittedly, it didn't exactly start well. Two days before we were due to take off, and our Lisbon apartment cancelled, which automatically gave us $20 credit to help us in booking somewhere new. My worst fears recognised. Where do we then book somewhere new for five people in Lisbon two days beforehand, on not a very big budget? I tweeted Airbnb, pretty angry at how someone could be allowed to cancel two days before. And to be fair, they couldn't have been more helpful. They responded immediately, sorted out a bit more credit for us and helped book somewhere new. I was incredibly impressed.
That aside, I couldn't have been happier with using Airbnb. When we arrived at our new apartment in Lisbon, our host Inês greeted us with pastéis de nata and a small glass of Port. I think my bad iPhone photos show exactly how gorgeous the apartment was, and Inês couldn't have tried harder in accommodating us. Our second host (another) Inês, was a little more hands-off but was still extremely helpful, fixing our router for us when it decided to die.
The thing I can't get over is the cost. Our second Airbnb in Peniche overlooked the sea, had five bedrooms, a big patio and was a second away from the nearest bar and had we not gone through Airbnb, I know we wouldn't have been able to get something as good. There were obviously some downsides compared to going to a hotel, like having to make your own breakfast and make your own bed (shock, horror), but I don't think I would have changed it for the world.
Now excuse me as I go off and spend a good few hours booking weekend trips on Airbnb to various European locations...
Realistically, I should love everything about a capsule wardrobe. They're meant to free your brain, meaning you can wake up in the morning and not have to worry about what the bloody hell you're going to wear that day - and as already discussed - this should be something I really should love. But I just can't get my head around the idea of it, and I swear at one point you couldn't move for bloggers and various magazines telling you about your capsule wardrobe and why you needed one.
There are definitely elements I like - don't get me wrong. I know for a fact that I should be spending more of my time and money on getting really good quality pieces of clothes that last a long time, fit well and were probably a little bit more than I'd usually spend. But uhhhh, I think the organisation required in putting together a capsule wardrobe may just be a bit beyond me. If a wardrobe requires more organisation than hanging things up and occasionally chucking things on eBay, I think we can safely say it won't be for me. I can't work out what happens if one month you have three fancy events to go to (this never happens, but shush) and can't wear the same thing more than once. I can't see how a capsule wardrobe - a concept managed completely by rules, from how many items you have, to what they are, to the quality) - would actually make my life easier. I'd spend all my time stressing about the rules.
Also, what is the point of organising your clothes based on the seasons in England? Just the other day it snowed in the morning, by the afternoon the sun was so hot I sat outside a pub for a drink.
I'll stick with the Marie Kondo approach to keep my wardrobe in check, thank you very much:
"Does this spark joy?’
If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it."
A few weekends ago, I headed up to Islington (unfortunately on the same day as the world's Arsenal fans also did) to have lunch at the Artisan Gluten Free Bakery. Now, I'm not gluten free and I have no intention of ever being gluten free - Ruby Tandoh's summarised all my feelings on that in her post "The Unhealthy Truth Behind 'Wellness' and 'Clean Eating'" in a much better way than I ever could - but my boyfriend is and he misses bread a lot so off we went.
We found it easy enough to get a table, even though the bakery was relatively busy but it took us ages to get served. I found that was a theme of the lunch, the service was slow, to the point when it came to pay that the guy behind the till seemed to be messing about so much and just generally faffing and I couldn't help but laugh at how he seemed to be turning the simplest of tasks into such an effort. Anyway...
I've eaten my boyfriend's gluten free bread before and I genuinely don't know why anyone would eat it. Most of it tastes like eating a washing up sponge. The food at AGFB definitely didn't taste like that. The panini tasted like an actual panini () and the filling was nice at that. My boyfriend was less impressed with his sandwich, but it still didn't taste like a sponge, and he was still happy enough to pick up a loaf to take home with him (as well as two cakes, which were pretty good going too).
If you're a coeliac, AGFB is definitely not a bad choice if you want the freedom to be able to pick anything off the menu and not have to worry about it being contaminated with gluten. If you're not, it's still a pretty good (and affordable) place to stop for lunch, afternoon tea or a cake
Artisan Gluten Free Bakery
167 Upper Street, N1 1US